I was 4 years old when I was picked up after a minor fall and had my tears brushed away with the words "You'll be OK. You'll heal long before you grow up and get married."
But by the time I reached puberty, that promise seemed to only be for my three sisters. I had come to the realization that I was gay, and gay people were not even thinking about getting married when I turned 12 in 1968. I hadn't even yet learned a word for being attracted to another boy.
As a culture we have come a long way since then. Gay people have learned that it is healthy to "come out." We have learned that we are stronger when we have a community of others around us to lend emotional support.
We have developed self-esteem and become more productive, and we find it beneficial to live with the partner we love. And we have learned that we are not alone. We now know that we can raise children. We call this "lifestyle choice" a family — and for the most part, our families have accepted us as we are.
So my grandmother (even though she didn't know it at the time) was correct in 1960 when she told me I would grow up and get married. Mom-mom has been gone a long time, but I knew she loved me then and I know she would be ecstatic now to know that I have this potential opportunity, in 2012, to finally get married.
The realization that marriage is on the horizon for me as a gay man says that my community and my family respects me as much as they respect the marriages of my three sisters. A vote for Question 6 is truly about the inclusion of everyone in our society. Marriage equality is about fairness to everyone.
Mark Patro, Perry HallCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun